- City Guides
Nights of Edwardian Whimsy in SF
The Edwardian Ball celebrates 20 years of frolic inspired by Edward Gorey’s nonsensical tales
Tuesday, February 4, 2020
San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom once again became a neo-vintage wonderland as the Edwardian Ball celebrated its 20th anniversary with music, art, wild costumes, and other madcap revelry. The gala, which drew a sellout crowd, wrapped up a weekend of events that also included Friday night’s Edwardian World’s Faire.
Presented by Paradox Media and the Vau De Vire Society, the events combined elements of a circus, music festival, art exhibition, and masquerade party. Together, they served as a whimsical tribute to Edward Gorey, a writer and illustrator known for his strange, darkly humored visual stories.
Paradox Media is a company founded by Justin Katz of Rosin Coven, a Bay Area band that describes itself as the “World’s Premiere Pagan Lounge Ensemble.” Rosin Coven produced the first Edwardian Ball in December 1999, and was later joined by the Vau De Vire Society, a theatrical and circus performance troupe.
Rosin Coven took the stage on Saturday for a one-hour show, then provided musical accompaniment as the Vau De Vire Society staged a theatrical adaptation of Gorey’s The Lost Lions.
Friday’s entertainment included a rousing set by Junk Parlor, whose music combines elements of jazz, tango, rock, and Eastern European sounds. That was followed by a Vau De Vire Society variety show.
For the World’s Faire, much of the main ballroom floor was devoted to art installations, including retrospectives of past Edwardian Balls. Kinetic Steam Works operated a steam-powered printing press and a wall of rotating gears that served as a photo backdrop. Meanwhile, guests lined up to have their pictures taken atop a winged crocodile.
On both nights, the top floor of the venue was occupied by the Museum of Wonders, an art exhibition featuring works by Eric Kelly, Onyx V. Crimbil, Heiko Greb, and others. There were also oddities such as a rat circus (with live rats) and a booth offering “Gorey Makeup.” Steampunk artist Steven La Riccia brought some musical instruments that resembled contraptions on Captain Nemo’s Nautilus. The museum included a stage for live music acts, so La Riccia’s work was on a separate floor.
The guests added to the visual spectacle with costumes ranging from steampunk to goth to 1920s decadence. You can see the highlights in the gallery below.